SAN MARCOS The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team received a career-high 19 points from Shamar Coombs and hit 26-of-36 free throws to come from behind in the second half and defeat Texas State 70-59 at Strahan Coliseum on Wednesday night.
The win was the third straight for the Islanders who stand 8-1 in the Southland Conference and 14-10 overall. They are now 12-0 when hitting the 70-point mark. A&M-Corpus Christi now stands alone atop the SLC West Division after Nicholls State downed co-leader Sam Houston State at 60-59 in Huntsville. Texas State is now 10-13 on the year and 3-7 overall.
"This was definitely a team win," said Islander head coach Perry Clark. "When the game was on the line and we had to step up and make plays we did."
The Islanders swiped five steals early in the games first seven minutes and hit seven of their first 10 shots to build a 16-9 lead. A&M-Corpus Christi would hit just three of its next 18 field goals in the half, while the Bobcats finished the first 20 minutes at 52% and led 34-32 at the intermission. Brandon Bush had 10 points in the first half and John Rybak hit three three-point baskets.
Texas State extended its lead to 41-33 in the second period on Rybak's fourth and final three of the game with 17:04 left prompting a timeout by Clark.
"The guys had a look in their eyes that I didn't like," said Clark about the timeout. "I needed to address that and when we came out we looked more confident and made some plays and got some stops.
"I told them it was time to step up and take control of our destiny."
The timeout proved to more than timely as the Islanders regrouped and out-scored Texas State 37-18 the final 17 minutes.
Demond Watt, who had 12 of his 13 points in the second, scored four straight points for the Islanders following the time out.
After Bush's bucket made it a six-point game with 15:43 to go, Coombs scored on a tip in to start a 9-2 spurt that gave the Islanders their first lead of the second half. A three-point basket by Tim Green with just over 12 minutes to go capped the run as the Islanders led 46-45.
The teams traded baskets over the next 150 seconds with Corey Jefferson's drive to the basket making it a 49-48 contest with 9:35 to go.
A&M-Corpus would allow just one field goal over the next seven-plus minutes to take control of the game. The Islanders held the Bobcats to 2-of-12 from the field in the final nine minutes.
Kevin Palmer's three-point basket with just over nine to go gave the Islanders a 51-49 lead and the team would not trail again. Coombs would score seven points down the stretch and A&M-Corpus went 12-of-16 from the foul line in the final 7:15 to build its lead to as many as 12.
Coombs finished 4-of-9 from the field and 8-of-10 from the foul line as he bettered his previous high of 15 points set at home against Texas State in the Islanders 89-64 win in January. Palmer, who led all players with three steals, added 15 points, while Watt had 13 points and eight rebounds in his best game since returning from an ankle injury. The Islanders had just nine turnovers missing its season-low of eight by one.
Cameron Johnson led the Bobcats with a double-double scoring 19 points with a game-high 12 boards. Bush added 18 and Rybak 13.
The Islanders will be out to avenge their lone Southland loss on Saturday when they host Sam Houston State at 1 p.m. at the American Bank Center.